A couple of years ago, my roommates and I hopped in the car and drove from Provo, Utah, to Zion National Park for Labor Day weekend. On a shuttle from the parking lot to the trailhead, I heard this announcement over the loudspeaker: “Angels Landing is an extremely treacherous hike. Those who are accompanied by younger children or have a fear of heights should strongly reconsider.” My knees knocked together—we were hiking Angels Landing, and I really don’t like heights.
After a good hour or so of hiking, we reached a plateau that looked out over the canyons. While the trail had been steep and winding, I was impressed with myself that I hadn’t been too nervous. I took a deep breath and announced, “Wow, this is so pretty!”
My roommate Krissa just laughed and said, “Yeah, just wait until we get to the top!”
Terror washed over me again. Beyond where we stood, there was a very narrow spine of a mountain. “That’s the trail?” I asked.
Krissa laughed again; then she and my other roommates bounded up the trail. The remaining portion of the mountain was truly just a spine: nearly every inch of the trail was lined with industrial-strength chains, which I clung to for dear life at the sight of the alternative—a thousand-foot drop. Following Krissa’s careful footsteps, I inched my way up the mountain, my heart racing until the very moment we reached the vista.
At the top of Angels Landing, I looked out across the canyons and could hardly believe my eyes. While I had been impressed by the view from the earlier plateau, it was no comparison to what I now saw.
As I’ve worked with the Stowaway staff to create this Winter 2014 issue, I’ve often felt as if we were climbing up a steep trail, clinging to chains of communication and support for the strength to continue. As a staff, we have rallied our strength to provide that support to one another through job interviews, pregnancy, jury duty, marriage engagements, and our ever-changing plans for becoming real adults. While the view from the top is absolutely worth the climb, our journey here is nothing to be ignored.
I hope you feel part of our Stowaway community. Although we approach the world through the lens of travel and adventure, our true focus is learning from the people we encounter—whether in a faraway land or in our own backyards. From coming out of your shell in Dallas (see “Deep in the Heart of Dallas”), to honoring ancestors in Madagascar (see “Turning the Bones”), to discovering exotic menu items at McDonald’s around the world (see “McWhat? Lovin’ It around the World”), we offer you a chance to explore life from someone else’s perspective.
As you read this issue, we also invite you to share your perspective with us—whether in an online comment, through a photo or travel story submission, or via social media. Please let us know how you see the world, dear reader. We’re excited to see what you see.